By Nessa Anwar
One of Singapore’s best known actors, Lim Yu-Beng, joins Nessa in this episode of InstaScram, where the real-life riding buddies bring each other to explore their favourite haunts in the Seletar and Yishun area.
A regular face on the Singapore stage and screen, a few of his latest projects in 2017 include Tropicana the Musical, and award-winning Suria drama ‘Firasat’. But, not many people know that one of Yu-Beng’s fiercest passions is riding. The jovial 52-year-old actor has ridden all over the world, from the Sepang circuit in Malaysia, through the Alps in France, dirt biking in Vietnam and even to the Acropolis in Greece.
Singapore is definitely no Europe. But, exploring the local turf with a buddy certainly makes it refreshing. First, they hit Yishun Dam, a small causeway linking the Seletar and Yishun that is steeped in a whole lot of history.
Located at the end of Yishun Avenue 1, the dam showcases the beauty of having two different bodies of waters on either side - the Straits of Johor on one end, and Lower Seletar Reservoir on the other. The causeway sits on an earthfill dam that was built in 1969, and has been a night-time hotspot for avid cyclists, bikers, and car enthusiasts since the 1990s.
During the daytime, Seletar Dam bears no resemblance to its mise en scène after dark. In the day, you might find cyclists using it as a pitstop for their journey, or photographers setting up for some sunset or wildlife photography. The serenity is constantly punctuated with heavy traffic along the roads. Once the night settles, scores of people arrive and sit by the sides of the boardwalk to enjoy the seaside ambience. It has become synonymous with the “lepak” culture amongst those with their own modes of transportation in Singapore, and some might remember the years when it was an infamous spot for illegal racing and barbeque sessions.
The venue has served up indelible memories for many locals. But, the dam also has some grisly details from its past. It has been the center of a couple of high-profile drowning cases and reported ghostly sightings. Now, it is relatively peaceful, with beautiful views whatever time of day. You can even catch sight of the remnants of Jenal Jetty, which was reputed to be the last fishing village on our island.
In true buddy-film fashion, the duo end their day at the trendy cafe, Soek Seng 1954 Bicycle Cafe. This bicycle themed cafe is truly unique, given its location, tucked away next to Seletar Airport. You can choose to dine, al fresco watching airplanes take off and land, or sit in the air-conditioned space amongst the vintage bicycles and beautiful artwork adorning its interior.
The cafe is the brainchild of Mr Poon Kng Joo, the director of Soek Seng Pte Ltd, an automobile and bodywork specialist dedicated to restoration of vintage vehicles over the last four decades. The name is a salute to his late father’s car workshop business, which was established in 1954. Mr Poon is a seasoned cyclist himself who has restored hundreds of old bicycles, and a few of them are displayed on the walls of his cafe.
The menu is sufficiently satisfying for a quick trip, offering Western and Asian dishes in a cosy environment that makes you feel like you are having a meal in someone’s living room. And given the number of cafes popping up around the Seletar Aerospace Park like Wildseed Bar and Wheeler’s Estate, the area is shaping up to be the next cafe enclave in Singapore. So, get on your bikes and make new memories in Seletar.